The German Auto Import Network is getting ready to build again.
Having recently re-established an Audi dealership, set up a temporary Porsche showroom and built a brand new BMW dealership in Victoria, the company is about to hire contractors to establish a new high-end Porsche dealership and refurbish its recently acquired Volkswagen dealership.
Spokesman Peter Trzewik said a $4.5 million, two-floor, 16,000 square foot building — akin to a “jewelry case” for Porsche’s high-end automobiles — will soon be built near Douglas and Audley streets behind an A&W restaurant. When that is complete, the neighbouring Volkswagen dealership will be brought up to date.
“We can’t wait to start,” said Trzewik, noting the German Auto Import Network had hoped to begin the Porsche construction five months ago. “We have the development permit and the design panel has passed it, we’re just waiting for a building permit.”
“It won’t be a big dealership, but it will be a very nice building and state of the art,” Trzewik said, noting the design is dictated by Porsche.
The entrance to the service department will be from Audley Street with a ramp to the upper car lot. The two-storey building that will house the parts and service departments is on the ground level with sales above.
The move has been in the works since the network bought Speedway Motors, and its Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen dealership from Roy Passmore in 2011.
Trzewik said neither Audi, Porsche nor Volkswagen wanted to be grouped in one dealership.
“They are somehow all joined at the hip, but they are all very different businesses with different business models,” he said.
So when the network established the BMW dealership near Songhees, the Audi brand was re-located to the former BMW lot at the corner of Yates and Cook streets. At the same time, Porsche was established in a temporary location at the corner of Blanshard and Caledonia, across from Save On Foods Memorial Centre.
“It’s been fun to bring the dealership into its [individual] brands and to give Audi a home it belongs in,” said Trzewik, noting sales of Audi vehicles have increased by about 50 per cent as a result. “That’s because there’s focus on one brand, not three.”
When it’s complete, possibly by the end of this year, the new Porsche dealership will solve a problem that has developed due to sales and service being separate.
“There is a disconnect now. Porsche customers love seeing their cars from the bottom and talking to technicians. They tend to be motorheads and love talking about their automobiles,” he said.
As for the Volkswagen building, the showroom which had been separated for the three brands will be opened to better showcase just Volkswagen cars and will be expanded to about 7,300 square feet from 6,000 square feet.
The dealership will also be brought more into line with other Volkswagen dealerships with additional glass and a yellow arch in front replaced with white framing.
The renovation is expected to take about six months, but won’t start until work on the Porsche dealership is complete.
The Volkswagen Group is the world’s third largest seller with 7.14 million vehicles sold last year, trailing leader Toyota and No. 2 General Motors.
The construction is just the latest in a series of auto dealer upgrades in the city after General Motors dealers undertook major renovations. Wheaton Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC completed its work last year and Jenner Chevrolet, GMC the year previous.
The former Cornell Chevrolet dealership at the corner of Douglas and Finlayson streets has been razed and the site is being prepared for the construction of a new expanded home for Metro Lexus Toyota. The Lexus building will be close to Burnside Road and Finlayson Street, while the Toyota dealership will be near Douglas Street.
Recently, the Carson Auto Group completed a four-storey building to house its Jaguar and Land Rover brands on its Suburban Motors lot and Campus Nissan unveiled a $10-million project with new showrooms and service areas.
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